You are on page 1of 7

ACFE’s definition of fraud.

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners

(ACFE) defines ‘‘occupational fraud and abuse’’ (employee frauds) as: ‘‘the
use of one’s occupation for personal gain through the deliberate misuse or
theft of the employing organization’s resources or assets.’’ The ACFE
defines financial statement fraud as: ‘‘the deliberate misrepresentation
of the financial condition of an enterprise accomplished through the
intentional misstatement or omission of amounts or disclosures in the
financial statements in order to deceive financial statement users.’’ 2
n Fraud as a tort. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1887 provided a definition of

fraud in the civil sense as:

First: That the defendant has made a representation in regard to
2019-02-11 20:49:59
a material fact;
Second: That such representation is false;
SONY kerugian atau kesalahan, MA AS 1887
Third: That such representation was not actually believed by the
2019-02-11 21:00:09 mm
definisi fraud dalam pengertian sipil :
defendant, on reasonable grounds, to be true;
-------------------------------------------- 1.terdakwa membuat representasi
Fourth: That it was made with intent that it should be acted on;
yang keempat (niat) biasanya adalah sebuah fakta material
Fifth: That it was acted on by complainant to his damage; and
paling sulit untuk dibangun dalam 2.representasi itu salah
Sixth: That in so acting on it the complainant was ignorant of
kasus pengadilan. 3. representasi itu sebenarnya tidak dipercayai
its falsity, and reasonably believed it to be true.
setiap penipuan memiliki potensi oleh terdakwa dengan alasan masuk
The bera
untuk first of the foregoing
khirdi pengadilan requisites excludes such statements as
dan perlu akal, dan benar 4. dibuat dengan niat
consist merely
dibuktikan in an expression
oleh korban of opinion of judgment, honestly
di pengadilan. itu harus ditindak lanjuti
entertained; and again excepting in peculiar cases, it excludes
5. ditindaklanjut oleh penadu atas ke ru
statements by the owner and vendor of property in respect of its
3 6. dengan bertindak seperti itu, pengadu
value. [Emphasis added.]
tidak tahu kepalsuannya, dan secara
wajar percaya itu benar
Of the six elements of the tort definition, the fourth (intent) is usually the
most difficult to establish in a court case.
Of all the definitions of fraud just listed, the legal one is preeminent in
antifraud. The reason for that ranking is that any fraud has the potential to end
up in court and the definition for fraud determined by the U.S. Supreme Court
in 1887 will be the one a victim needs to prove in a court of law.
The legal definition of fraud also matters at the beginning of a fraud
investigation. For instance, it was said that intent is the most difficult aspect of
the legal definition to prove. Intent occurs in one’s mind and thus proof is
somewhat circumstantial. Basically, one has to establish a sufficient pattern of
fraudulent transactions or activities in order to prove intent, or the courts
often see shredding of documents as self-incriminating. For instance, if a victim
company happens upon a single misuse of the corporate credit card and
proceeds with a criminal case, the defendant can easily defend the claims
with the ‘‘oops’’ theory;4 that is, oops, I made a mistake—I meant to use my
personal credit card and did not notice that I used the corporate one by mistake.
Guilty parties can use the excuse of an accident or carelessness as the cause of
the incident, rather than a deliberate intent to steal or commit the fraud, along
with a plethora of other viable excuses.
But, if at the beginning of the fraud investigation, the victim entity’s antifraud
personnel take the time to establish a pattern, even if that means allowing
the fraudster to continue to steal for awhile, then the victim can establish
‘‘forensic’’ evidence related to intent. The fraudster might try the ‘‘oops
defense,’’ but if the victim is able to produce dozen of instances, the judge
or jury will probably not believe it.
Likewise, it is incumbent on entities to define fraud, make the definition
part of its ethics or fraud policy, and have employees sign their acknowledg-
ment of understanding and agreeing to abide by it. Without a signed policy
statement on the definition, certain kinds of frauds would be difficult to prove to
a jury of peers (e.g., using corporate cameras, computers, and time to manage
an eBay account), leading to disagreements as to whether those events are
fraud. Thus it is in the best interest of the entity to provide a definition for fraud,
e.g., the ACFE definition for employee fraud, and have employees sign it.


Fraud, theft, defalcation, irregularities, white-collar crime, and embezzlement are

terms that are often used interchangeably. Although they have some common
elements, they are not identical in the criminal law sense. For example, in
English common law, theft is referred to as larceny—the taking and carrying
away of the property of another with the intention of permanently depriving
the owners of its possession. In larceny, the perpetrator comes into possession of
the stolen item illegally. In embezzlement, the perpetrator comes into initial
possession lawfully, but then converts it to his or her own use. Embezzlers have
a fiduciary duty to care for and to protect the property. In converting it to their
own use, they breach that fiduciary duty.


The cost of frauds to individual businesses and society is substantial. But it

is still true that too few people have a sufficient understanding of fraud.
Reviewing the literature creates an appreciation for the scope and nature of
fraud and builds a foundation for understanding fraud topics.
The current term fraud was traditionally referred to as white-collar crime, and
the two are used synonymously here. The classic works on fraud are White Collar
Crime by Edwin H. Sutherland; Other People’s Money by Donald R. Cressey; The
Thief in the White Collar by Norman Jaspan and Hillel Black; and Crime, Law, and
Society by Frank E. Hartung.5 These authorities essentially tell us:

White-collar crime has its genesis in the same general process as other
criminal behavior; namely, differential association. The hypothesis of
differential association is that criminal behavior is learned in associa-
tion with those who define such behavior favorably and in isolation
from those who define it unfavorably, and that a person in an
appropriate situation engages in such criminal behavior if, and
only if, the weight of the favorable definitions exceeds the weight
of the unfavorable definitions.6

In other words, birds of a feather flock together, or at least reinforce one

another’s rationalized views and values. But people make their own decisions
and, even if subconsciously, in a cost-benefit manner. In order to commit fraud,
a rationalization must exist for the individual to decide fraud is worth com-
mitting (i.e., the fraud will not be prevented, detected, and/or punished in
accordance with the potential rewards).

Trusted persons become trust violators when they conceive of them-

selves as having a financial problem which is nonshareable, are aware
that this problem can be secretly resolved by violation of the position
of financial trust, and are able to apply their own conduct in that
situation, verbalizations which enable them to adjust their concep-
tions of themselves as users of the entrusted funds or property.7

Jaspan and Black tried to derive antifraud measures in their research. Their
book, The Thief in the White Collar, is based on their many years of consulting
experience on security-related matters, and contains a number of notable and
often quoted generalizations. In a nutshell, Jaspan and Black exhort employers
to: (1) pay their employees fairly, (2) treat their employees decently, and
(3) listen to their employees’ problems, if they want to avoid employee fraud,
theft, and embezzlement. But to temper that bit of humanism with a little
reality, they also suggest that employers should never place full trust in either
their employees or the security personnel they hire to check on employees.8
Hartung disagrees with Jaspan’s and Black’s generalizations and focuses
on the individual. He argues:

It will be noticed that the criminal violator of financial trust and the
career delinquent have one thing in common: Their criminality is
learned in the process of symbolic communication, dependent upon
cultural sources of patterns of thought and action, and for systems
of values and vocabularies of motives.9

In reality, both Jaspan and Black, and Hartung appear to have been correct.
Hartung noted that individuals are inevitably affected by their environment.
Although Jaspan and Black might be considered too empathetic to the individual,
their suggestions to deter fraud echo the same as modern efforts do: Create an
environment with few reasons and with few opportunities to commit fraud.


In order to properly prevent, detect, and respond to fraud, antifraud stake-

holders need to understand why fraudsters commit a fraud. No model or
framework has been more useful than Cressey’s Triangle in providing that

‘‘Fraud Triangle’’
In the 1950s, Donald Cressey was encouraged by Edwin Sutherland, who was
serving on his dissertation committee, to use a thesis of why a person in a
position of trust would become a violator of that trust. Sutherland and Cressey
decided to interview fraudsters who were convicted of embezzlement. Cressey
interviewed about 200 embezzlers in prison. One of the major conclusions of his
efforts was that every fraud had three things in common: (1) pressure
(sometimes referred to as motivation, and usually a ‘‘nonshareable need’’);
(2) rationalization (of personal ethics); and (3) knowledge and opportunity to
commit the crime. These three points are the corners of the fraud triangle (see
Exhibit 2.1). His book Other People’s Money is based on his dissertation work.

Pressure (or incentive, or motivation) refers to something that has happened in
the fraudster’s personal life that creates a stressful need that motivates him to
steal. Usually that motivation centers on some financial strain, but it could be

EXHIBIT 2.1 The Fraud Triangle

the symptom of other types of pressures. For example, a drug habit or gambling
habit could create great financial need in order to sustain the habit and thus
create the pressure associated with this aspect of the fraud triangle. Sometimes
a fraudster finds motivation in some other incentive. For instance, almost all
financial statement frauds were motivated by some incentive, usually related to
stock prices or performance bonuses or both. Sometimes an insatiable greed
causes relatively wealthy people to commit frauds.
Beyond the realm of competitive and economic survival, what other
motives precipitate fraud? Social and political survival provide incentives,
too, in the form of egocentric and ideological motives, especially in financial
statement frauds. Sometimes people commit fraud to aggrandize their egos, put
on airs, or assume false status. Sometimes they deceive to survive politically, or
have a burning desire for power. They lie about their personal views or pretend
to believe when they do not. Or they simply cheat or lie to their political
opponents or intentionally misstate their opponents’ positions on issues.
Motives to commit fraud in business usually are rationalized by the old
saying that all is fair in love and war—and in business, which is amoral,
anyway. There is one further category of motivation, however. It might be
called psychotic, because it cannot be explained in terms of rational behavior.
In this category are the pathological liar, the professional confidence man, and
the kleptomaniac.

Most fraudsters do not have a criminal record. In the ACFE Report to the Nation
(RTTN) 2008,10 93 percent of the reported fraudsters had no prior criminal
convictions. In fact, white-collar criminals usually have a personal code of
ethics. It is not uncommon for a fraudster to be religious. So how do fraudsters
justify actions that are objectively criminal? They simply justify their crime
under their circumstances. For instance, many will steal from employers but
mentally convince themselves that they will repay it (i.e., ‘‘I am just borrowing
the money’’). Others believe it hurts no one so that makes the theft benign. Still
others believe they are entitled to the benefits of the fraud and are simply taking
matters into their own hands to administer fair treatment (e.g., they deserve a
raise or better treatment). Many other excuses could serve as a rationalization,
including some benevolent ones where the fraudster does not actually keep the
stolen funds or assets but uses them for social purposes (e.g., to fund an animal
clinic for stray animals).

According to Cressey’s research (i.e., the Fraud Triangle), fraudsters always
have the knowledge and opportunity to commit the fraud. The former is
reflected in known frauds, and in research studies such as the ACFE’s RTTNs
that show employees and managers tend to have a long tenure with a company
when they commit the fraud. A simple explanation is that employees and
managers who have been around for years know quite well where the
weaknesses are in the internal controls and have gained sufficient knowledge
of how to commit the crime successfully.
A prerequisite to opportunity is that the perpetrator be in a position of
trust. Remember Cressey’s thesis was about trust violators. And it is difficult to
commit a fraud without being in a trusted position over assets.
But the main factor in opportunity is internal controls. A weakness in or
absence of internal controls provides the opportunity for fraudsters to commit
their crimes. It is noteworthy that the Treadway Commission (later known as
the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations, or COSO) was formed to respond to
the savings and loan frauds and scandals of the early 1980s. The committee’s
conclusion was that the best prevention was strong internal controls, and the
result was the COSO model of internal controls, which was incorporated into
financial auditing technical literature as SAS 78, Consideration of Internal
Control in a Financial Statement Audit. Then the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)
focused on an annual evaluation of the internal controls by management with
an independent opinion of that evaluation by the financial auditors—Section
404 of the act. Again, if the purpose of SOX was to minimize fraud, internal
control is the effective way to accomplish that goal. In fact, it could be argued
that this aspect of the triangle is the only one that auditors can easily observe or
The opportunities to commit fraud are rampant in the presence of loose or lax
management and (concomitant) inadequate attention to internal controls. When
motivation is coupled with such opportunities, the potential for fraud is increased.